la buona cucina americana: macaroni and cheese

Mom is here, and I’m happy to report that things are going swimmingly (although no, we haven’t been to the beach yet). Even though it’s been four years since we’ve been in the same room, it feels like no time has passed at all. Don’t you just love that?

We’re off today for some market action and then to see Cherrye in Catanzaro, but not before I share a recipe with you.

La Buona Cucina AmericanaParticularly since my mom is certainly one of my biggest cucina influences, it’s rather fitting that for this round of La Buona Cucina Americana, I’m lucky to have her here helping.

I knew we’d have to make one of my very favorite dishes that remind me of home aka L’America, and that, amici miei, is Macaroni and Cheese. Mac ‘n Cheese. Whatever you like to call it, my mom’s has just six steps and six ingredients: pasta, cheese, milk, butter, salt and love.

I swear to you I could eat this every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

And if that doesn’t convince you how good this is, get this: even picky (read: non-American-food-eating) P loves it! Yeah!

There is an infinite number of variations on this–I’ve been known to spice this up with pancetta and onions, put sliced tomatoes on top and then bake it–but what I’m giving you here is the way my mom makes it, the easy stove top version, ready in just minutes.

And *of course* you can play with the cheese(s), but it may surprise you just how good this version is with plain old “white American” slices (either Kraft or fresh sliced for those of you in America).

Also, happy 3xth birthday to my brother from all of us on this side of the pond–no cake, but, um, you’re welcome to some macaroni and cheese!

Macaroni and Cheese
(serves 4 as main course; many more as side dish)

Mac and cheese on Flickr

  • 4 cups fusilli or penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 4-5 slices of white American cheese, Kraft for example
  • salt to taste
  • lots o’ love

1. Prepare pasta in salted boiling water and remove when rather al dente.

2. In the meantime, in a pot big enough to hold all the pasta, melt butter and then stir in milk and cheese torn into pieces on low heat.

3. Drain pasta and add to milk mixture, stirring well to coat.

Look at that technique of La Mamma!

4. At this point, adjust for all the ingredients and salt (and love!).

5. It is ready when the cheese has melted completely.

6. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for three to five minutes before serving.

Maccherroni con sottilette
(per 4 persone come primo piatto; di piรน come contorno)

  • 250 g fusilli o penne
  • 28 g burro
  • 125 ml latte
  • 4-5 fette di sottilette
  • sale q.b.
  • tanto amore

1. Mettete al fuoco alto la pentola con l’acqua salata e portatela a ebollizione; quindi buttate la pasta e fatela cuocere piuttosto al dente.

2. Nel frattempo fate squagliare il burro in una pentola abbastanza grande per tutta la pasta al fuoco lento. Agguingete il latte e le sottilette a pezzi.

3. Scolate la pasta e rovesciatela nel recipiente del latte, mescolando bene.

4. A questo punto controllate per tutti gli ingredienti e sale (ed amore!).

5. Il piatto รจ pronto quando le sottilette sono completamente squagliate.

6. Togliete dal fuoco e portate in tavola ben caldo nello stesso recipiente di cottura. Copritela e fate riposarla per circa 5 minuti prima di servirla.

Buon appetito e buon weekend!

32 Beans of Wisdom to “la buona cucina americana: macaroni and cheese”
  1. 06.13.2008

    First off, I really, really like mac ‘n’ che. My daughter Mandy here loves it and the two little grandkids? Well they both pretty much worship at the mac’n’che altar! Frequently, it is the only food substance we can convince either of them to eat!
    I love mac’n’che with stewed tomatoes on top of it -have never tried baking it that way though so may have to give that a shot sometime although, the little guy might get persnickety over the addition of the tomatoes. Never can tell about those visual things ya know.
    Sometimes I make it and add a little bit of finely chopped onions into the mix and add some eggs too -makes it a bit custardy. On other occasions, I just shake a dabble of hot pepper flakes in it too. I like that, my son-in-law though, not so much. So if I’m a bit peeved with him and cooking mac’n’che for supper, guess what? That’s usually when I slap the hot pepper flakes in it just because, well I am a bit evil that way at times.
    But I’ve never made it with sliced white American cheese -which both the kids do love -so there’s a very good possibility this recipe may be finding its way to our supper table either tomorrow or Saturday! (Friday is always a good day for Mac’n’che for me even though I’m not Catholic and I know they don’t have to adhere to the “no meat on Friday” rule anymore but it’s something that gives a respite from the meat regime and maybe that’s what I like about that. Who knows?)
    Peace and thanks for the heads-up on this recipe. Weather in central Pa today (Thursday) was awesome up here near Penn State – just a beautiful warm but not overly hot, very little humidity, beautiful blue skies and a nice breeze going on type of day! Just had to toss that in so you and your Mom would know what you missed here!

    Jeni Hill Ertmer’s last blog post..Great Day!

    Hah! Thanks for all the info Jeni ๐Ÿ™‚ The stewed tomatoes are *huge* in my family back home, but I never really got into them. Hope this recipe fits into all your mac and cheese experimentation ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. 06.13.2008

    Macaroni and cheese is heretofore, and forevermore, maccherroni con sottilette. It’ll never be the same without the orange color, but the love goes a long way towards making up that lack…

    Paolaccio’s last blog post..creating “the new society within the shell of the old”

    Glad you can get over the lack of orange. It *is* difficult to let go of, I’m sure.

  3. Gil

    You and your Mom haven’t been together in four years and you find time to write recipes for your fans? You are just too dedicated. Go have some fun with your Mom and spoil her more than a little.

    Don’t worry Gil; most of this was prepared before Mom got here…just had to add photos ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Joanne at frutto della passione

    I think my little guy would really like this. I put the cheese slices in his risotto
    especially after he’s been sick (because he loses so much weight). I think I may even
    try it tonight!

    Joanne at frutto della passione’s last blog post..Mosaic Meme

    Oh that’s a great idea with the risotto as well; hope it turns out well for you ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. 06.13.2008

    This is a version I have not seen in all my years of cookery! Thank you!

    Who knew that Sottilette would work?

    Judith in Umbria’s last blog post..Made in America: macaroni and cheese

    My mom definitely gets inventive in the kitchen ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Love, love, love mac n chesse but with swiss. Add a tiny bit of bacon and voila!

    Have fun with Cherrye!

    nyc/caribbean ragazza’s last blog post..Flashback Friday – Tell Me Something Good – Rufus & Chaka Khan

    Ooh I’ve never had it with Swiss….

  7. 06.13.2008

    You just made me start craving American cheese!

    Diane Mandy’s last blog post..What I didnโ€™t blog about this week

    Sorry about that Diane ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. 06.13.2008

    Oh, yum! I, too, love my mom’s macaroni and cheese and there’s always one night a year when she bakes it just for me (usually the night before Thanksgiving, so I can have it two nights in a row, and since I can’t eat the turkey). I have tried to re-create her macaroni and cheese, but it’s impossible for me. There’s something magical she must do, something beyond cheese and butter and pasta and bread crumbs, and I don’t know if I’ll ever find it. Ah, Moms.

    Have a blast with yours!

    nova’s last blog post..Positive Feedback, Please, Thank You!

    How wonderful of your mom; I hope you get that magic touch sooner or later though…imagine how fun it’d be to have it whenever you want ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. 06.13.2008

    This sounds so good — and easy — I’m tempted to make it for breakfast!

    annoa2’s last blog post..News & Notes and a little something for What’s Cooking Wednesday

    Mmm…mac and cheese for breakfast…why not?!

  10. 06.13.2008

    That’s one of the first things I ate aftering returning to the US. The ultimate comfort food!

    jennifer’s last blog post..remembering is sweet

    Comforting indeed Jennifer ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. 06.13.2008

    My daughter loves mac&cheese but the fluourescent orange kind. I’m on my last box so I’ll definitely try your recipe when I run out.

    milanesemasala’s last blog post..Euro 2008 – The Sexy, the Sexy Ugly and the Just Plain Fugly

    Hope she likes it!

  12. 06.13.2008

    Wow, that’s perfect! I love Mac and Cheese and I rather make it with cheese slices then the powdered box stuff. Definitely making that for my daughter tonight. Thank you. Now go have a great weekend.

    Lucia’s last blog post..Rouge Beach

    Hope you had a great weekend as well Lucia!

  13. 06.13.2008

    Homemade mac and cheese is my comfort food. I make it with smoked gouda.

    running42k’s last blog post..A look at Father’s Day presents of old

    Sounds great to me!

  14. 06.13.2008

    Okay, I’m embarrassed to say that this Italian American has never made her own mac and cheese from scratch. But, now I’m eager to try your recipe. Yumm! So glad your Mom is there to spend some quality time with you. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Christina Arbini’s last blog post..Needed: A Knight To Slay My Dragons…Or Just Open My Doors

    Christina I actually don’t know many people who make mac and cheese from scratch, so don’t despair…just put the water on to boil and get started ๐Ÿ˜‰

  15. 06.13.2008

    Mmmm, this sounds yummy!! I’m particularly enticed to try making it since the recipe doesn’t require making a roux! Thanks for sharing.


    Lara’s last blog post..Phew! Lots of rambling ahead.

    Super easy indeed Lara; hope you enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. 06.13.2008


    How wonderful to have mac and cheese AND your mom at the same time.

    Enjoy every moment of your visit together.

    I’ll be in your neck of the woods by next Sunday. Can’t wait!!!!

    xxoo Karen

    karen cole’s last blog post..BLOGGERS BY THE SEA

    Thanks Karen…and buon viaggio ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. 06.13.2008

    Love Mac ‘n’ Cheese. My mom never made it when I was growing up…not even out of a box. Did they have Mac ‘n’ Cheese in boxes in the 60’s. Anyway, I have never made it from scratch…isn’t that awful. I love it even from a box mix. Crazy me.

    If it was homemade, I might think I had died and gone to heaven. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    thotlady’s last blog post..My Puppies

    I have to admit there’s a time and place for the box mix as well, although I never had it growing it up. Hope you get to enjoy some mac and cheese now at least!

  18. 06.13.2008

    Oh yum…. it is awesome when you have that *hardly a day has passed feeling* with someone you’ve not seen if ages. :o) Have a great weekend!

    Thanks Dory!

  19. 06.13.2008

    YUM!!! I am on my way!!

    Hello to your mom, too.

    Now, go to the beach!

    Scarlett & Viaggiatore

    Wanderlust Scarlett’s last blog post..Viaggiatore’s Milestone, and a Farewell to Brothers in Arms

    Yes yes, mac, cheese, and beach!!!!!!!!

  20. Four years is a terribly long time to be apart. I hope you savor every moment with your mom!

    Susan from Food Blogga’s last blog post..Almond Panna Cotta with Glazed Cherries for Father’s Day Dessert

    I am indeed Susan, thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. 06.14.2008

    This macaroni with cheese looks awesome…I guess it can be a great dinner or lunch, especially for us who go out everyday. Thanks a lot for the recipe and hope you are having a great time with your mom!

    Indranee’s last blog post..Thanks a Lot for the Award!

    I love this as a meal myself; if you want a little more substance, throw in some bits of your favorite meat or even veggies…cheese and pasta is pretty versatile ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. 06.14.2008

    just checked in to see
    what kinds of adventures you were having with your mom.


    { i am so smart;
    i knew you guys would be doing some ~american~ cooking }

    saturday, june 14, is flag day here in the states!

    wave one if you get the chance!

    somepinkflowers’s last blog post..tourist tuesday and our lady of la leche shrine

    Even more American cooking on the way…well at least something Italian-American ๐Ÿ˜‰

  23. 06.14.2008

    Yummy-looking food! Continue to have a fun time with your mom!


    Paz’s last blog post..New York Monday #126: Looking for the Subway?

    Thanks Paz!

  24. 06.15.2008

    aaaahhhhh…the ultimate comfort food! tell your momma D. & i say ‘hi’!! hope your visit is full of joy!

    qualcosa di bello’s last blog post..sigh!…

    Thank you much Qualcosa!

  25. 06.15.2008

    Oh yum, this sounds so delicious!

    flutter’s last blog post..Had a bad day?

    I rather enjoy it Flutter ๐Ÿ˜‰

  26. 06.16.2008

    Mmmm, mac and cheese. Classic American Comfort Food!

    Glad to know Mom helped. Hope you are having fun!

    My Mรฉlange’s last blog post..Pissaladiรจre

    Thanks Robin…lots of fun indeed ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. 06.17.2008

    I made this on Sunday for my daughter for lunch at first she looked at me as if I needed medication.
    We usually make Kraft Mac and Cheese from the box but I wanted to do it this way.
    I made enough for 3 small bowls…she ate more then a small bowl. My husband and I shared the rest
    he loved it. I left out the salt as I’m trying to be more health concious. I added pepperoncini instead for my bowl!

    Lucy’s last blog post..Hole In My Pocket Monday!

    Woohoo Lucy! Glad the family liked it ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. 06.20.2008

    HMMMM…sounds divine! And I really hope you are having an amazing fantastic time with mom!

    Karina’s last blog post..We Are the Champions!!!

    Amazing, fantastic indeed Karina, thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. 06.23.2008

    Oh, hug your mama from me! That was some yummy mac & cheese. Everyone loved it.

    Chel’s last blog post..Love isโ€ฆ 20 minutes alone

    Done Chel! Glad it was a hit ๐Ÿ™‚

  1. Pingback: The Flavors of Abruzzo » Made in America - Mac-n-Cheese!
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Michelle KaminskyMichelle Kaminsky is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer who lived in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy for 15 years. This blog is now archived. 

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